Evian Conference
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Anti-Semitism & Holocaust

The Evian Conference - Hitler's Green Light for Genocide


"I wrote about the Evian Conference because I felt people should know the part the allies played in appeasing Hitler and giving him the green light to believe he could do whatever he wanted to the Jewish people as nobody wanted them and this resulted in genocide. By their refusal to take Jewish refugees the countries who attended the Evian Conference condemned them to torture, inhumane treatment and a horrible death. Let us hope and pray we never make the same mistake again." Annette Shaw
Dr. Chaim Weismann Dr. Chaim Weizmann, who was to become Israel's first President in 1948, is quoted in the Manchester Guardian as saying: "The world seemed to be divided into two parts – those places where the Jews could not live and those where they could not enter."1 His words were to become even more poignant as events of the 1930s and 40s unfolded.

From 1933 when Hitler came to power in Germany Jews were being expelled and a growing problem of refugees was emerging but who were going to accommodate these refugees?  The Evian Conference, called by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in July 1938, was to address this urgent and pressing issue and the questions to be addressed in this Dissertation are - why was The Conference called?  Was it for humanitarian or political reasons?  What was the re-action to the invitation by countries that were considered to be those of immigration?  Some were world leaders such as the United Kingdom with her colonies and dominions including Australia and Canada with small populations and vast areas of land.  What of Palestine which had been favoured by the British Government in the Balfour Declaration of 1917 as a Homeland for the Jewish people but had seen rebellion by the Arab Palestinians who opposed more Jewish immigration and partition of the land?  What about the United States which, like Australia and New Zealand, had marginalized their ethnic populations and become a land of immigration?  Other smaller countries were well populated already, how could they take more refugees? What was the attitude of the public and press towards refugees in the light of unemployment?  What would it mean to have a huge influx of Jews if they caused problems with their dietary and other religious laws? 

Did the Conference succeed?  If not, why not, and what were the consequences of the failure?  Did anything positive come from the Conference and what was the reaction of Governments and the press to it?  Was there an element of anti-Semitism, especially among top government officials and the press and what affect did this have on the refugee question?

In order to find the answers to these questions the situation in the UK and its attitude to settlement of Jews in Palestine and its colonies, Australia and Canada and the USA have been studied regarding attitudes to Jewish refugees. The responses of delegates who attended the conference, of government officials, the press, Jewish leaders and observers and also their proposals for solutions to the problems encountered have also been examined.  The sources used are taken from official documents of the countries involved such as cabinet and state department papers, reports, from newspapers and from the writings of people who attended the conference such as S. Adler-Rudel, who, although expelled from Germany, was one of their official representatives of Germany Jewry allowed by the Nazis to attend the conference, and Zionist leader, Chaim Weizmann, Other well known and respected writers of books on the subject include Henry Feingold, John Mendelsohn, Michael Marrus, Irving Abella and Harold Troper,  Michael Blakeney, and Louise London whose pains-taking research and use of material from Government records and public statements to the press and in governmental debate is outstanding.   Most books have tackled the refugee issue in one specific country but this Dissertation attempts to bring a wider view of the problem of Jewish refugees fleeing from Nazi aggression.

Go to Chapter 1 - Why Was The Conference Called?
©2001 Annette Shaw
Introduction     Chapter 1     Chapter 2    Chapter 3    Chapter 4    Conclusion
Anti-Semitism & Holocaust      Christian Action for Israel

1 Manchester Guardian, 23rd May 1936, cited A.J. Sherman, Island Refuge, Britain and the Refugees from the Third Reich, 1933-1939, (London, Elek Books Limited, 1973), p112.
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